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Campaign finance requirements for Rhode Island ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for Rhode Island ballot measures are promulgated by the Rhode Island Board of Elections. The Board of Elections is responsible for the administrative and reporting functions of Rhode Island's campaign finance laws including the Rhode Island Ballot Question Advocacy and Reporting Act of 2006 which governs most of the state's campaign finance laws towards ballot measure campaigns[1] [2].

The Board of Elections maintains a disclosure database which is made public two days after the filing deadline for all campaign finance activity done by ballot question advocates[3].

If someone feels a person or committee violated Rhode Island campaign finance law, the first step is to file a complaint with the Board of Elections. The Board investigates all complaints. It is up to the Board to validate the complaint and to determine if there is probable cause to proceed with an investigation. If a there is probable cause of a violation, all complaints are referred to the Attorney General for prosecution[4].

General requirements

Ballot Question Advocacy

Rhode Island defines ballot question advocacy as advocating the defeat or passage of a ballot question[5].

Ballot Question Advocate

Rhode Island law defines a ballot question advocate as any person making expenditures of $1,000 or more in a election cycle towards the passage or defeat of a ballot question[6].

Person is defined by Rhode Island Statutes as a individual, partnership, committee, association, corporation, or other organization[7].

Campaign finance requirements

Contribution limits

There are no contribution limits for ballot advocacy groups in Rhode Island[8].

Corporate/labor contributions

Rhode Island allow corporations and labor unions to donate to ballot question advocates[9]. Rhode Island however bars corporations from donating to candidates, candidate committees, and Political Action Committees in support of a candidate[10].

Filing reports

Reports must be filed during an election cycle by a registered ballot advocacy group or advocate[11].

Gambling referendum clause

In addition to the normal reporting procedures, all ballot question advocates must disclose if a donor has a direct or indirect stake in a casino or gaming operation. This is only if the campaign is involved in a gambling referendum[12].

True origin clause

Rhode Island requires that all campaign contributions made to have its true origin disclosed. It is illegal for a advocate to use a corporation or other entity to mask the true identity of a contribution being made[13].

Reporting requirements and reports

Rhode Island uses a initial, monthly, and pre and post-election reporting system for reporting campaign finance activity for Ballot Question Advocates.

Initial report

The first initial report must be filed within seven days after the end of the first month a Ballot Question Advocate exceeds the $1,000 threshold for expenditures made[14].

Monthly reports

Monthly reports are due seven days after the end of every month. This is for all months after the first initial report was filed[14].

Pre-Election report

The last monthly report before an election is replaced with a pre-election report that must be filed seven days before the election[14].

Final report

The final report covers all campaign finance activity from the end of the pre-election deadline. All final reports are due thirty days after the election by 4:00 PM, Eastern Time[15].

Campaign advertising restrictions

There are no campaign advertising restrictions in Rhode Island's campaign finance laws.

Terminating a committee

A ballot question advocate can terminate its status upon filing a final report. The final report serves as the termination report. The report must be received within 30 days after the election[16]. Any surplus contributions of $1,000 or more can be used to transfer to another ballot question advocate, donated to a non-profit organization that has a 501(c)3 designation, donated to the State of Rhode Island, or returned to the donors[17]. All outstanding contributions must be reported to the Board of Elections by June 30th of the following year along with distributions thirty days later[17].

External links

References

  1. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute, 17-25.2-8 Rhode Island Statutes)
  2. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute, 17-25-5(2), Rhode Island Statutes)
  3. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute, 17-25-5(4)-(ii), Rhode Island Statutes)
  4. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute, 17-25-5(7), Rhode Island Statutes)
  5. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute, 17-25.2-3(2), Rhode Island Statutes)
  6. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute, 17-25.2-3(3), Rhode Island Statutes)
  7. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute, 17-25-3(9), Rhode Island Statutes)
  8. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.2-4, Rhode Island Statutes)
  9. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.2-7, Rhode Island Statutes)
  10. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.10.1(h), Rhode Island Statutes)
  11. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.2-5, Rhode Island Statutes)
  12. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.1-1.1, Rhode Island Statutes)
  13. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.2-7, Rhode Island Statutes)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.2-5 (5)(B))
  15. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.2-5 (5)(C))
  16. Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.2-5(5)(c))
  17. 17.0 17.1 Rhode Island Legislature "Rhode Island Statutes"(Referenced Statute 17-25.2-6)